Little Women Movie Review

Not So Little Women


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Pictured are the four main characters of Little Women: Meg (far left), Amy (center), Jo (right center) and Beth (far left). This is one of the official posters for the movie which portrays these four sisters standing together as they peer out the window. Despite their four distinct personalities as demonstrated slightly by their facial expressions, above is a moment of unity showing the closeness among them.

Little Women has earned 27 awards nominations, $107 million in ticket sales, and a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. An adaptation based on the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, this movie follows the story of the four March sisters: Meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo, in their everyday life. Set around the time of the Civil War in rural New England, the story focuses on each sister as they navigate the rigid social structure of their society and eventually on their own accord, make their own way.
This is a beautiful story that provides an authentic lens into the struggles of women at the time such as the pressures to marry or settle down to have children. Jo March, who desires to become a famous writer, is especially at odds with these societal expectations as she wishes for a life fulfilled by writing rather than defined by her relationship to men. Saoirse Ronan carries out the role of Jo in an original way, skillfully balancing the portrayal of Jo’s daring and stubborn nature with her more sensitive loyalty and immense love for her family.
The movie also serves a modern purpose by showing how these unique struggles of womanhood from the 1860’s translate into the modern era. Meg March happens to desire the more traditional life path of marriage and children, rather than the more daring desires of her sister Jo. Despite Jo’s difficulty in understanding this decision, she eventually comes to accept her sister’s wishes due to Meg March’s line, “Just because my dreams are different than yours, doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.”
While each woman goes down a different path, pursuing a variety of dreams from marriage to fame, the sisters come to realize that their chosen path is perfectly acceptable for women, despite how it might be viewed by society. This movie puts women at the center of the narrative, rather than as supporting characters that are meant to push along a male-driven story. “Little Women” focuses on portraying women as multidimensional and demonstrates the nuances of what it means to be a woman in various spaces.
In one of Jo March’s iconic lines, she says, “Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as beauty, and I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!”
Not only does this movie focus on the individual journeys women must go through to discover how they fit into the spaces they occupy, but it also portrays the beautiful love that does and can exist between women. So often are women portrayed as catty, callous, and competitive in nature towards their female counterparts. However, this movie shows that while all of those dynamics can exist, so does all these other beautiful components of trust and loyalty that so often prevail within female relationships. No matter how angry these sisters behave towards each other when one hurts the other, at the end of the day they return to each other; reminding themselves and the audience that their sister bond is one that cannot be broken.
Throughout the movie, these girls are unapologetically themselves, never feeling any shame for their desires and dreams, inspiring girls of all ages to strive for something more than they’re given or told they deserve. This movie not only shows a plot about the plight of women during a specific time but also advances the female cause through sparking an honest discussion of female experience.